Fundraising can sometimes feel like you’re just taking money from people. But you’re really adding so much to people’s lives. You’re offering happiness.

If you’re like so many other nonprofit professionals, you joined the team to do something great with your life.

You love what you do, and you love the reason you do it.

Whether you’re saving endangered species, influencing culture for the better, rescuing lives from human trafficking, or creating awareness of lost causes—we’re all in the nonprofit sector because we believe in something greater than ourselves.

But as the years pass, the mechanics of fundraising tend to get to you.

You don’t lose your heart for the mission, but you do lose sight of how noble fundraising can be. I mean, some days, it can feel like you’re just taking people’s money.

But nothing could be further from the truth!

You are a happiness provider, a purveyor of purpose.

To think any less of yourself is to lose your sense of value. Without that, you’ll start to lose steam as you call through your list of donors or prospective donors.

Your transcendent value proposition

As my friends at NextAfter are fond of saying, every nonprofit should prominently display and clarify its value proposition in every fundraising communication. This has led to some promising results in their fundraising experiments.

Of course, when you’re writing fundraising copy, the value proposition is about what the donor’s gift at that moment can do to make an impact.

But your organization has an even higher value proposition. Let’s call it a “transcendent value proposition.”

This isn’t a value proposition that you’d want to tell donors about. It’s not something you should put into your copy.

But you need to know about this huge value that you provide to your donors so that you’ll be energized to get out there and meet people, make calls, write copy, send emails, put on events, etc.

In other words, the transcendent value proposition is for you, not your donor.

Your transcendent value proposition is that you’re a source of happiness for donors. By giving to help the cause, your donors are using their money in a way that will bring them happiness and fulfillment.

You’re not taking anything from anyone.

You are offering donors the chance to receive a feeling of joy and satisfaction!

Your donors can do whatever they like with their money.

Every day they decide where to spend their money. They often spend in the hopes that what they’re spending on will bring them happiness—or at least the satisfaction of having spent their money well.

The problem is, we know that spending money on ourselves doesn’t typically make us any happier.

There are some things that give us a sense of relief when we pay them. Bills, groceries, debts, etc. But they don’t necessarily make us happier.

There are other things we spend on for pure pleasure. A new iPad, a sweet indulgence, the latest movie, new clothes—but even the happiness we get from these things isn’t that noteworthy.

But giving our money to a friend in need or to a good cause has been proven to raise our level of happiness and satisfaction.

That’s your transcendent value proposition.

You’re here not only to achieve your nonprofit’s mission, but to give donors the chance to participate through giving.

And in giving, they feel like they’re fulfilling a greater purpose in life.

Giving, happiness, and science

Recently, I watched a TED talk by Michael Norton called “How to Buy Happiness“.

In the talk, Michael Norton discusses a series of studies and social experiments he and his team conducted that showed people actually experience great happiness when they spend money on others versus on themselves. 

In one experiment, they handed envelopes of money to students on a college campus. The recipients were told they should spend the money (either $5 or $20) by the end of that day either on themselves—to cover a bill or expense or get themselves a gift—or on others, a gift for someone or a donation to charity.

The results were remarkable. The people who spent the money on themselves that day weren’t any happier that evening, but the people who spent it on others were. The amount of money, $5 or $20, didn’t matter at all. It was only how people spent it that made them happier.

Whether big or small, the quantity of the money given produced the same rise in overall joy.

Don’t stop—the world needs you

The world needs more joy. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true.

It’s a privilege to be a part of an industry that is here not only to make the world a better place, but is able to bring happiness to its supporters.

At RaiseDonors, we’re here for you.

We believe in nonprofits and the work you do. We exist only to help you cultivate generosity for your cause—which means we’re making it easier for donors to receive a boost in their overall happiness.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.